Supplier Spotlight

Video Exclusives

VSS Unity spaceplane completes second test flight

Watch Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company's VSS Unity complete its second successful, supersonic, rocket powered test flight to an altitude of 114,500ft and a speed of Mach 1.9.

Click here to watch video

06 June, 2018

Space Launch System - in numbers

Discover how engineers are outfitting the world’s most powerful rocket with sensors, cables and other equipment in this 2:40 video.

Click here to watch video

15 May, 2018

Blue Origin launches and lands New Shepard rocket

Watch Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' space tourism company Blue Origin successfully launch and land a used rocket and capsule.

Click here to watch video

02 May, 2018


To watch more videos, click here

At what speed does an aircraft's speed become hypersonic?


S-97 Raider hard landing reviewed in NTSB initial report

On August 2, a Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider test flight helicopter experienced a hard landing caused by issues with the flight control software as the aircraft was hovering at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in Palm Beach County near Jupiter, Florida.

At the time, the S-97 was preparing for an expansion of its flight envelope with the intention to reach 220kts (407km/h). The two test flight pilots were slightly injured in the incident, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report into the incident. The aircraft’s retractable landing gear was significantly damaged.

In a conference call for the press, Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations, said the company was “fully committed to the program”. It will be returning the Raider program to flight testing in 2018 after the NTSB investigation is over.

Van Buiten said the “complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system, and the associated pilot interactions” as the fly-by-wire Raider transitioned from operating on the ground to flight were the possible source of the problems.

“We have been able to reproduce the event in our simulator and we are confident in operating with the NTSB to get to the root cause and fully understand the issue,” said Van Buiten.

Based on the X2 demonstrator, Sikorsky’s Raider made a first flight on May 22, 2015. The two aircraft share technologies such as rigid coaxial main rotors and a variable-pitch pusher propeller, the latter is used to increase speed and its maneuverability.

Van Buiten said, “The flight control software issue has nothing to do with the X2 technology itself. Remember the Raider is an all-composite fuselage, aircraft-retractable landing gear, crashworthy seats, crashworthy fuel system, and we’re just delighted with how all of those systems behaved in the event.

“The landing gear sustained significant damage, but the flight crew sat in the cockpit, shut off the engines, shut off the electrical system, just checked things out, routinely opened the egress doors, climbed out of the helicopter, walked up to the test crew and started talking about the event.”

Sikorsky has been using the Raider as a ‘risk reducer’ for the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant due to the latter’s flight software. Analysis is continuing as to whether the Defiant’s flight software needs modification.

Sikorsky has more than 30 industry partners and suppliers on the Raider program, and Van Buiten said it is keeping them updated on the investigation and the program’s development “within the confines of the NTSB-releasable information.”

Sikorsky was in the process of expanding the Raider’s flight envelope at the time of the incident, having recorded over 100 hours of ground runs and 20 hours of flight testing on the aircraft.

September 14, 2017

Written by Michael Jones


Your email address:

Read Latest Issue

Read Latest Issue

Web Exclusives

Steve Drake, NDT market manager for Ashtead Technologies, describes how the rapid deployment of the latest borescope equipment to Africa helped a business aviation operator make tough decisions about a grounded aircraft 
Click here to read more

Hardware-in-the-loop systems have helped to reduce flight testing of Saab's latest fighter jet, writes National Instruments in this case study
Click here to read more

An experiment is set to be launched from the International Space Station this month which turns the normal approach to space on its head – instead of putting things into space, this experiment aims to test ways to take things out of space. 
Click here to read more

Ergonomics and human factors is vital in aircraft but can be overlooked during testing and development. Here Nick discusses the latest trends and developments in cockpit design and testing.
Click here to read more

Experts from AMETEK Power provide an update on the latest globally-applied standards for testing avionics equipment under extreme power conditions  
Click here to read more

Supplier Spotlight

Supplier SpotlightClick here for listings and information on leading suppliers covering all aspects of the aerospace testing industry. Want to see your company included? Contact for more details.

Submit your industry opinion

Industry BlogDo you have an opinion you'd like to share with the aerospace testing community? Good or bad, we'd like to hear your views and opinions on the leading issues shaping the industry. Share your comments by sending up to 500 words to

Submit Your Recruitment Ad

Recruitment AdTo send us your recruitment advertising or to receive information on placing a banner please email